Getting a grip on mammos

An estimated 480 Canadian women in their 40s died of breast cancer last year. So why are we told to start screening at 50?

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Published in Chatelaine in March 2007

When Barbara Gobis Ogle’s family doctor told her to get a mammogram at 40, she didn’t see the urgency. The single mother and executive at a Vancouver-based medical tech firm had too many other distractions: putting in the hero’s hours at work, ferrying around teenage sons to football practice, struggling to catch six hours of sleep a night.

Most women are told they don’t need to be tested for breast cancer until they turn 50, so why would Ogle bother to take a half-day off work to put on a pink gown and have her breast sandwiched between two cold plates?

Her general practitioner, Dr. Barbara Hejdankova, was just being cautions; she advises all of her over-40 patients to go for an exam.

At 45, Dr. Hejdankova had found a suspicious lump of her own, and though the growth turned out to be benign, the discovery mad her a big believer in early testing.

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